CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
BANGALORE BENCH : BANGALORE
ORIGINAL APPLICATION No. 108 OF 2010
TODAY, THIS THE .........DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 2010
HON'BLE SHRI N.D. RAGHAVAN ... VICE-CHAIRMAN
HON'BLE SMT. LEENA MEHENDALE ... MEMBER (A)
aged 62 years, S/o late Varadappa,
No.50, Srinivas Krupa, Dinnur Main Road,
Dinnur, R.T. Nagar, Bangalore-560 032. ... Applicant
(By Advocate Shri B. Venkateshan)
1. Union of India,
Represented by the Secretary,
Dept. Of Posts, Dak Bhavan,
New Delhi – 110 001.
2. Chief Postmaster General,
Karnataka Circle, Bangalore-560 001.
3. Director of Accounts (Postal),
Bangalore GPO Complex, Bangalore-560 001.
4. Sr. Superintendent of Post Offices,
Bangalore West Dn., Bangalore-560 010. . ... Respondents
(By Advocate Shri M.V. Rao,
Sr. Panel Counsel for Central Govt.)
O R D E R
Hon'ble Smt. Leena Mehendale, Member (A) :
A time has come, it appears, to feel concerned about avoidable delays in administrative action; failing which the whole fabric of the system built for smooth working of the Society is in danger of destruction.
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2. This is the case of a senior citizen not being allowed to draw his regular Pension and thus put into hardship on the ground that departmental inquiry is pending against him. It is submitted on behalf of the applicant that he reired from service on attaining the age of 60 years with effect from 31.12.2008. He retired from the cadre of BCR in the Department of Posts after putting in 33 years of unblemished service. His DCRG was sanctioned on 29.12.2008 after showing some dues and proper deductions. However, the amount sanctioned has not yet been paid. The provisional Pension of Rs.6,315/= sanctioned for six months was stopped after 30.6.2009. All this was done as a consequence of a departmental inquiry initiated against him by a memo of charge dated 29.12.2008 (Annexure-A/7) accusing of bigamy.
3. The charge sheet states that Smt. Vanajakshi, who was married to the applicant was deserted by him in 1979 when he married Smt. Byravi. Of late, it seems, he was not paying maintenance to Smt Vanajakshi, as agreed before, who therefore, made a complaint to the department and the department came to know about the said act of bigamy. It is the contention that the fact of his marriage with Smt. Byravi in 1979 itself and its suppression from the office are both unbecoming of a government servant under rule 21 (2) and Rule 3(1)(iii) of CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964. At Annexure-A/12 is the report of the Inquiry Officer reporting that the applicant had admitted the charges framed against him and pleaded guilty. The papers were forwarded to the Disciplinary Authority on 17.04.2009 (Annexure-A/12) who has until this date, has not
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passed a proper order. The OA No.108/2010 was therefore made before this Tribunal on 25.2.2010. Thereafter, on 19.3.2010, this Tribunal directed the Respondents to grant the same provisional pension as was paid during initial six months from July 2009 till the disposal of this OA. It has been noted as below in the daily order sheet dated 19.3.2010.
"In the meanwhile, going through records and pleadings it appeaars that the applicant in 1975 had married once that too with a lady who was at that time legally married to another man and also had two children in him in that marriage and without knowing this the applicant seems to have married. Later on when the matter was discovered there seems to have been some sort of a settlement whereby in 1979 the applicant had married again. The applicant would submit that he had been looking after the first wife also alongwith the second wife. But just prior to his retirement she had filed a complaint alleging that he was not paying her maintenance. Two days prior to retirement a charge sheet has been issued against him alleging bigamy. Under the Hindu Law when a woman who is already married is married to a man again then that marriage cannot be held to be legal. Therefore the first marriage of the applicant, if the facts are right, cannot be held to be a legal marriage. Thereupon, there cannot be any question of bigamy. The applicant is a man of humble resources by going through the administrative hierarchy and the silly technical reasons stated to the charge sheet cannot be accepted to deprive him of the constitutional mandate of livelihood."
4. It was the major concern of the applicant that as the disciplinary inquiry proceedings is delayed, he is deprived of his due benefits of DCRG, full pension and all the consequential benefits. We are surprised at the response to the application on two grounds.
5. Firstly, at para 7 of the reply statement which is in answer to para 4.3 of the application it says
".....orders renewing the payment of provisional pension from 01.07.09 to 31.12.09 was issued vide DA(P) memo No.2385/KNK/PEN/XV/ Prov.PEN/ 10.07.2009 and from 01.01.2010 to 30.06.2010 it was
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sanctioned vide DA(P) Ltr. No.7859/KNK/PEN/XV/ Prov.PEN./KVM dtd.01.10.2.2.10."
Further down at para 9 which is in reply to para 4.5 of the application, it says:
"Action was initiated to renew the payment of provisional pension to the retired official, by addressing the Director of Accounts (Postal), Bangalore (Respondent No.3, and sanction was issued by the DA(P) BG 1 vide letter No.2385/KNK/PEN/XV/Prov.Pen dtd 10.01.2010 for payment of Provisional Pension from 01.07.2009 to 31.12.2009 and subsequent renewal order was issued by the said authority vide letter no.7859/KNK/PEN/XVB/Prov.Pen/KVM dtd 01-10/02.02.10 with a copy to the applicant."
It is not clear how the Respondents have come to issue two orders dated 10.07.2009 and 10.1.2010 for sanctioning provisional pension for same period violating all principles of financial propriety. Further, the respondents, while filing their reply statement only on 4.6.10 which is much after the interim order of this Tribunal dated 19.3.10, have failed to inform us whether the applicant has received his payment of provisional pension out of their above quoted orders or on account of the interim order passed by this Tribunal. Further, at para 13 of the reply statement, the respondents claimed once again that:
"Provisional Pension is being sanctioned continuously by renewing the provisional pension in time."
as if this was being done because of the so-called efficient ways of working of the department, without giving any dates after which the provisional pension was being renewed and paid "continuously".
6. The second reason why the reply of the respondents surprises us is at para 16 of reply statement. It is mentioned that the first complaint by Smt.
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Vanajakshi complaining that the applicant had failed to pay her proper maintenance even though aggrieved much earlier, was received on 6.3.2007 which is almost two years before the retirement of the applicant. The complaint took much time for investigation and finally the disciplinary action was initiated only on 29.12.2008 which is just two days prior to the retirement and the department is well within their knowledge that once the applicant has retired, thereafter even if he admits the charges voluntarily, the papers would have to travel a much longer journey and get the approval of the Govt. of India, as was claimed as the reason for delay by the learned counsel for respondents.. Further, after receiving the report of the Inquiry Officer in April, 2009, the Disciplinary Authority prefers not to complete action till the applicant has to pray this Tribunal on 25.2.2010 to direct the department to complete the disciplinary inquiry earlier and save the applicant from financial hardship. The reply statement does not explain all this.
7. Under such circumstances and without giving any reason as to why the Dsiciplinary Authority delayed his decision, the learned counsel for the respondents claimed that their hands were tied in finalising the case of disciplinary inquiry against the applicant because of the obsevation made by this Tribunal on 19.3.2010 wherein, the words such as "it appears that" and "if the facts are right", etc., have been used. It is clear from these words that in the interim order passed on 19.3.2010, this Tribunal has not preculuded the Disciplinary Authority from finalising the charge sheet, but, had only asked to
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examine certain issues and record, even despite the voluntary admission of the applicant whose knowledge and understanding of the legal implications is quite limited, to thoroughly examine the records before coming to the conclusion that the applicant must be charged with the offence of bigamy. We see this as a failure of the Respondent No.4, the Disciplinary Authority on three counts viz.:
(a) Delaying the finalization of the disciplinary enquiry from the period April 2009 to 19.3.2010;
(b) Delaying the necessary file work to ensure that the Provisional Pension of the applicant who is under charge sheet is paid within time as per Rules and
(c) In not examining the records as related to the question of bigamy despite the instructions given by this Tribunal while granting interim relief dated 19.3.2010.
8 We do not wish to treat him harshly at this stage, as we feel this to be a collective lapse of the department as a whole that they do not have a proper system for monitoring the pendency of the departmental inquiry cases and the proper working of the system as far as timely payment of provisional relief is concerned. We tend to view it more as a failure of the department and that of Respondents No.2 and 3 in not taking care of proper monitoring system rather than considering it as a lapse only of Respondent No.4.
9. We therefore, direct the department to set up the necessary monitoring system so that the pendency of the departmental inquiries and the consequential wastage of time of all concerned as well as the avoidable financial hardship of the charged officers is taken care of. Respondents No.2 and 3 should report
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about setting up and efficiency of such a system within three months.
10, We also direct the Disciplinary Authority, i.e., Respondent No.4 to examine all the records without any further delay in the light of the observations made by this Tribunal while passing the interim order dated 19.3.2010 and finalize the departmental proceedings against the applicant within a period of one month from the date of receiving this order.
11. The application is disposed with the above two directions to the respondents. No order as to costs.
(LEENA MEHENDALE) (N.D. RAGHAVAN)
MEMBER (A) VICE-CHAIRMAN